RPG Review #77: The 7th Saga

NuMetalManiak Ah I just love theming things accordingly! And with this being my 77th RPG, time to roll in the dough and play The 7th Saga. A game that is first on an alphabetical SNES list assuming number characters are used, but one really hard RPG to come by, and one really hard RPG to complete as well. Did I like this particular Enix RPG? What about it made me play it aside from this being lucky number 77? What exactly am I talking about here?

Gameplay: I heard a lot about The 7th Saga, and in terms of gameplay, many hated it. It was deemed exquisitely difficult in a lot of ways, especially due to enemies with one-shot abilities and such. Not to mention weak characters throughout. The battle system I would liken to that of Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, your character faces towards the enemy. Up to three enemies, and up to two party members can be in a battle, so again, status effects against the party can be rather nasty given the party limit. Then again, they surprisingly work well against enemies in turn as well, so all is not as bad. What REALLY needs to be worried about is just how strong the enemies hit you for, whether at the beginning of the game or at the end. Both magic and regular attacks can miss, it's dependent on a speed rating. Thankfully, there are no enemy ambushes, and both player and enemy can evade attacks. There is a ton of grinding to ensure you can safely get to beating enemies properly. Thankfully, when I compare this to the previous game I played, this game managed to fare far better than Dragon Quest, so it gets points for that.

Another thing I enjoyed was the actually unique way encounters are done. The crystal ball is given to the main character, and it is basically a radar. It tracks locations to go to, treasure chests, as well as moving enemies on the map. Yes, this is a spin on the random encounter system, and I like it. You can simply stand in place and wait for enemies to come to you, or run in a direction away from the white dots to avoid them. Very nice. Encounters can be hard, so avoiding them is a possibility. Then again, what I said earlier applies.

An interesting premise in the plot is that there are 7 apprentices, you play as one of them of your choice. They are each all set to get the 7 runes, and apparently are in competition with one another. It is possible to meet with an apprentice in town and talk to them, several different things can happen. They can simply say things, they can request to join, they can request to fight, or automatically fight you. In the case of fighting, it's because you have runes, and unfortunately fighting an apprentice locks them from joining. As for joining, only one apprentice can join at a time, but it's good to have an ally. Note that experience ends up being divided with an ally. Also the runes are infinite-use buff items for the most part and seem like game breakers, but are lost after a point in the game. So yes, expect to grind, and expect to suffer in The 7th Saga, but my suffering here was not as bad compared to Dragon Quest. Grade: B

Characters: As I said, 7 total apprentices. Choose one to be the main character.

Kamil Dowonna: Human fighter character. He is the most balanced character but does not excel in anything. Has fire spells.
Olvan Jaess: Dwarf, same kind of fighter as Kamil, but more power and less magic ability.
Esuna Busy: Elf, sole female protagonist and has ice spells. Terrible physically, but has high speed rating and can evade anything.
Wilme Pelin: Naked orange alien, a pure fighter, high HP, bad magic, but worst of all, can't equip good armor. Also fights a lot.
Lux Tizer: Tetujin, SPEAKS IN ALL CAPS, has decent stat growth, unique thunder magic, and good defense. Bad armor though.
Valsu Saizer: Human white mage, like Esuna he is bad physically and even has only one offensive spell. But a lot of healing and support makes him a good ally. Also has a very broken spell that can restore all HP and MP.
Lejes Rimul: Demon, opposite of Valsu in that he is a full offensive mage. Terrible physically of course. Not a fun character.

For picking characters and partners, pick the ones that are opposite of one another. An example would be Kamil and Esuna. One's a good fighter and the other is a good mage. A team like Wilme and Olvan is bad since both are physically good but not good magically. I had Esuna as my main character, and had Olvan, Valsu, and finally Lux as my partners in my game. Well, given who you can choose, it's not as bad as it seems. Grade: A-

Plot: I already described the beginning premise, 7 apprentices compete to get 7 runes. Do you think you know how this goes? Will apprentices fight each other? Will they team up? King Lemele seems to have this covered, or what if this just so happens to be all a complete ruse? Lemele has trained these seven apprentices and given them crystal balls to find these 7 runes. The one who finds all of them will be granted the title of heir to King Lemele. Promising? No?

Well that's basically that much when it comes to the storyline of the plot. Once you set out for the runes, there's not much to find in this game that really tells you that you need to find the runes other than "find the blinking circle on your crystal ball" and kill whatever is guarding it. Bleh. Though there are a few interesting points, like finding an ancient civilization, or possibly wresting a rune out of another apprentice's hands (oh and if you lost a battle to an apprentice, they take your runes and money). One particular instance, a certain apprentice (which is never Lux or Esuna) goes nuts and captures a whole town along with a rune. The goal is to kill, yes, KILL that apprentice to get that rune, and such that apprentice never shows up in the game ever again. There's also another rune that if you take too long reaching it, another apprentice will have taken it. A certain rune guardian also apparently kidnaps children too.

So what happens when you get all the runes? You hear about how Lemele is the son of a great warrior named Saro and defeated a certain demon Gariso. You also decide to defeat this apparently resurrected Gariso, only to find Lemele, who is actually Gorsia (yep, an anagram). Plot twist occurs, all runes are lost, and you are sucked into the past. In the past, we learn more about Saro and Gorsia. Apparently Saro is defeated, but not dead entirely. Upon meeting Saro, we learn more about him before he dies, and regain the seven runes, this time tailored to the sole purpose of defeating Gorsia. ANOTHER PLOT TWIST. Defeat Gorsia, and he still kills your main character (so what the heck happens to the partner who is still alive?). Saro then reincarnates the main character as Lemele. What kind of ending is this? Terrible! The premise is nice, but the plot falls apart afterwards, a known hero dies, and the main character dies to be resurrected by the previously dead known hero? None of this makes any sense! Grade: D-

Music: Well, it's not terrible, but it's watered down mostly. A few battle themes, many of them for different areas, and a few town and overworld themes. Shame there was no final boss theme, but I make do here. Grade: B-

Overall Grade: C+

My grades are all over the place, but really, The 7th Saga was not as bad as I was led to believe. Yes, grinding is gonna be a pain if you want to survive, but you get to choose from a number of characters at the beginning, and there's always the prospect of having a partner. If only the plot was much better. RPGs need good plots, people.